Harvey Milk, 1978.(Daniel Nicoletta via Wikimedia Commons; some rights reserved.)

Harvey Milk, the San Francisco gay-rights activist slain in 1978 by a fellow city Supervisor—and, of course, played by Sean Penn in last year’s Milk—will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His nephew will accept the honor at the White House on August 12 along with Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sidney Poitier, and other luminaries. Milk is primarily known for his work on behalf of gays, as well as for being the first openly gay non-incumbent elected to public office in America. (Indeed, one very much suspects that Milk’s selection for the Medal was driven in part by President Obama’s need to shore up gay support, which has waned in recent months; former tennis star and lesbian activist Billie Jean King will also receive it this year). But Milk, originally from Woodmere, N.Y., on Long Island, was also Jewish. Last year, the Forward reported that while Milk had no interest in formal religion, his Jewishness was integral to his “profound sense of himself as an outsider.”

Harvey Milk To Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom [Towleroad]
Harvey Milk, in Life and on Film, Typified the Proud Jew as Outsider [Forward]